Four Photographs from the Backyard

I was putting together another “random” photograph post and it turned out 4/5 were from the backyard. A post of backyard photos made sense so you’ll just have to wait for #5.

Kanzan (Kwanzan) Cherry Blossoms

I recently visited Queen Elizabeth Park and Stanley Park in Vancouver and there were crowds of people gathered around the various cherry blossom trees in bloom at the moment. The tree in the backyard blooms later, probably in the first week of May, and I don’t need to deal with any crowds there! This variety is the Kanzan Cherry (Prunus serrulata ‘Kanzan’) which is also known as Kwanzan or Sekiyama. The Kanzan Cherry has deep pink, double-blossoms, and nice fall foliage. The backyard Kanzan tree’s flowers are a lot more ornate than the usual cherry blossoms I see around.

kanzan or kwanzan cherry blossoms with leaves

Kanzan (Kwanzan) Cherry Blossom with Leaves (Purchase)

Fireweed Flowers (Chamaenerion angustifolium)

These Fireweed (C. angustifolium) flowers are a favorite of Bumblebees and Hummingbirds in the backyard. Fireweed often takes over in new clearings made by fire (or clear cuts etc), hence the name. C. angustifolium is largely known as Fireweed in North America but is called Great Willowherb in parts of Canada. In Britain and Ireland it is known as Rosebay Willowherb or Bombweed. Other names include Saint Anthony’s laurel. While I was making this photo several years ago a hummingbird buzzed by my head several times as it was not happy I was in its territory. The Fireweed itself seemed unperturbed.

closeup of fireweed flowers

Closeup of Fireweed (Chamaenerion angustifolium) Flowers (Purchase)

Fall-bearing Raspberries

Organic fall-bearing raspberries in the backyard garden. Fall-bearing raspberries are sometimes known as everbearing raspberries because they can be pruned in a selective way in order to bear fruit during both summer and fall. Fall-bearing raspberries bear fruit on the current year’s new canes (primocanes). Raspberries are typically used in raspberry jams, in baked goods, on cereals, and in beverages.

fall-bearing everbearing raspberries fruit

Organic Fall-bearing Raspberry Fruits (Purchase)

Winter Heather Blossoms, Snow, and a Honeybee

In late winter or early spring the Winter Heather blooms in the backyard. There are a few local apiarists with Honeybee hives and the bees show up on good weather days as soon as there are blossom available. This year it snowed quite late in the season, and I made this photo of a honeybee on the flowers surrounded by snow. Not a usual combination in this area!

honeybee on heather flowers in the snow

Honeybee (Apis mellifera) on Winter Heather Flowers in the Snow (Purchase)

For more newly published photographs visit my New Images Gallery in my Image Library.

My 10 Best Photos of 2011

reflection of mount shuksan in the silhouette of picture lake
Mount Shuksan Alpenglow

   It is always tough to narrow down a years worth of images into a list of the “best”. I did this last year and I think it is a valuable exercise. Jim Goldstein of JMG Galleries creates a list of everyone’s top 10 images each year. I made my first top 10 last year. This years list has fewer landscape and more wildlife photos. This is partly due to my not getting out to shoot as many landscapes as last year, and partly due to my backlog in image editing.

   You can click on each of the following images to go to the blog post that may tell a bit more about the location and how I made the photograph.

In no particular order my “Best of 2011″…

Read more

Honeybee (Apis mellifera) Macro

honeybee apis mellifera foraging on a buddleja flower
Nectar Gathering
-click to enlarge-

   One of the things I love most about macro photography is how a small area of the backyard can suddenly yield almost infinite possibilities with a macro lens. One of my favourite macro subject are bees – and while I have shot a lot of these it can be rather hit and miss. You need a decent shutter speed as these and other insects don’t seem to sit still long while on a flower. To do this I shot at a higher ISO than usual (800 in this case), and at a wide aperture (f/6.3 for a little more DOF than f/2.8) so I could have a high shutter speed. I was also doing this hand held with a 100mm lens with no stabilization, so a shutter speed of 1/100sec would have not turned out well with just the camera shake from my hands (that 1/focal length rule). These guys dart around so much that using a tripod would drive one mad so these settings are important.

   Even with settings like this there is still a lot of trial and error. So I take a lot of shots. This further illustrated to me my need to upgrade from my 2Gb CF cards – they were okay for my 30D but the 7D in RAW mode results in 22-25 megabytes for each photo. Once you start taking something other than landscapes having only 70 exposures available before switching cards is limiting.

Honey Bees (Apis mellifera) Drinking

honey bee drinking at birdbath

I have occasionally seen the odd honey bee drinking water from the edge of the pond, and occasionally from the edge of the birdbath – but never en masse like they have this year. I don’t know if it is the nature of the summer weather, or the fact the neighbours have a beehive – but they have been there every day in numbers for most of the last few months. I got the tripod and my macro lens in very close to them and aside from a few buzzing around my head they didn’t much care I was there. At least they sit still on the birdbath relative to on the flowers.

honey bee drinking at birdbath honey bees drinking at birdbath group

honey bee drinking at birdbath honey bee drinking at birdbath